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J Hand Surg Am. 1988 May;13(3):458-60.

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy and cigarette smoking.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Medical College of Ohio, Toledo 43699.


Although the cause of reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) remains unknown, hyperactivity of the sympathetic nerves and secondary vasospasm may be pathogenic in this syndrome. A retrospective epidemiologic study of RSD was done on 53 in-patients from 1978-1985. Cigarette smoking was strikingly increased in patient frequency in RSD (68% versus 37% of hospitalized controls, p less than 0.0001). Eighty-seven percent of the patients had a history of trauma or surgery, and 38% had other associated diseases. Cigarette smoking is statistically linked to RSD and may be involved in its pathogenesis by enhancing sympathetic activity, vasoconstriction, or by some other unknown mechanism.

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